May 1, 2018

Comey is a Great Illustration of Our Tribalism

James Comey, painted portrait _DDC0019I've been steering clear of pretty much anything related to politics because I find the constant outrage tiring; however, I cannot resist making a brief comment peripherally related to former FBI director James Comey. I've seen a few interviews with him since the release of his book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. In watching them, it occurs to me that he may be the best living illustration of political tribalism we could hope to find. No, I don't mean that he's tribalistic; I mean that he exposes our tribalism.

Liberals, at least those liberals who supported Hillary Clinton hated Comey during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Many, including Clinton herself, blamed him for her loss. I think it makes sense that she'd do so since it has to be easier to externalize blame onto a scapegoat than to look in the mirror and accept responsibility for one's failure. It makes less sense that anyone else would do so, but whatever. That's not really the point. The point is simply that they hated him.

And how about now? Comey has become a hero to many liberals because he has criticized Donald Trump. Funny how that works, isn't it? When he's perceived as going after Clinton, he's one of the most despised men in America. When he's perceived as going after Trump, all is forgiven and he might even be a hero.

Not surprisingly, we see this not just from the liberals but also from the conservatives who support Trump. They thought Comey was wonderful when he came out against Clinton. But now that he's been critical of Trump, they've quickly turned on him.

Whether Comey is a "straight shooter," a good guy, a hero, or the spawn of Satan seems to have precious little to do with him and everything to do with whether he's perceived as being on my side or their side. And so help him if he's on their side. That's tribalism. It is ugly, and it would be great if more of us could recognize how stupid it makes us look.